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Self-Care Tips for the Caregiver

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As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Yet, millions of people are taking care of their immediate families, their relatives, an older adult, a special needs child, an elderly parent, or an adult child. However, taking care of others and trying to keep the rest of their lives in order is stressful. These self-care tips for the caregiver will help you with the struggles and trials of caring for others.

It’s a big task, and when you are the family caretaker – who takes care of you? Caregiving responsibilities can take a toll on your physical health.

It is often left to the person caring for everyone to take care of themselves too. And maybe at the end of the day, you are simply too tired to try. 

So, what can you do? These self-care tips for the family caregiver will ensure that you stay healthy mentally and physically so you can help others. Putting on your own oxygen mask means that your own health comes before you take care of others.

self care tips for the caregiver

SELF-CARE TIPS FOR THE CAREGIVER

Ask for help

Are you driving between cities every day, trying to be everywhere on time? Perhaps running the errands and keeping an eye on your family members at the same time? Caregiver burnout is a real thing. Additionally, you may have a hard time asking for help.

Caregiver stress can be difficult when we feel like it’s all on us, it can be tempting just to carry on. But asking for help is one of the first ways that you can lighten your load. Family caregivers sometimes need to be reminded to ask for help, but often people offer to help, and since we don’t want to be a burden to others we turn down that help. Not only should you accept help from others, but you also need to learn to ask for help. Your own needs are not selfish.

Help doesn’t just come from friends and family – although there is where you should start with asking. 

Outside of that, there are other options for the care of your loved ones and sometimes you need to get professional help from places such as outpatient alcohol addiction treatment, residential care homes for older adults, private nurses, and other support networks. 

You aren’t letting people down by asking for help; you’re giving yourself the ability to cope better. 

woman holding man's hand

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Find ways to relieve stress

Stress relief looks different for everyone and we all hold stress in different areas of our bodies. For one person, relieving stress means a good cup of coffee, but for others, a relaxing massage or a trip to the spa for a pedicure helps others.

Smash the guilt

Banish the world guilt completely. Feeling guilty for not doing enough isn’t healthy. It will push us to do more than we should be and burning out. 

If you find yourself sitting having coffee with a friend and feeling guilty about it, then it’s time to ask yourself why. 

One of the best ways to banish guilty feelings is to praise yourself for all that you do. If you find that you can’t shake the feeling, talk to a friend or family member, and usually, that’s enough to douse the flames of the guilty feeling. 

Quiet time

The world is a busy and noisy place. If you are spending a lot of time in facilities, hospitals, or other areas that aren’t at home, you don’t control the noise levels. 

Depending on the situation, the noise of machines beeping, the heating too high (for you), fluorescent lighting, and more can quickly lead to an overwhelming sensory experience. 

Having some quiet time each week will help you recover and find some calm in all the business. Quiet time can be different for each person. To be an effective caregiver, one person might just need a cup of tea with their Bible each morning, but another person might view quiet time as yard work or walking the dog. Spending some alone time is healthy and needed when caring for others.

Take time to process what is going on in life

Having a lot on your mind feels like you are carrying a weight around all day. That weight can get gradually heavier until you don’t know where to turn. Even those caregivers with a positive attitude can encounter extreme periods of stress.

Processing what is going on can take time, but one of the most efficient and valuable ways to process things is by writing them down. 

You might choose to keep a private journal or share your experience with other people online who are going through similar things in support groups. 

When you are busy taking care of other people, you don’t always have the time to process your thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner. However, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

So make time for it. 

You are just as important as the people you take care of, so keep your cup topped up. 

Rest when you need it

Too often, when we are caring for others, we don’t slow down in other areas. What ends up happening is that we take the time out of the time we would spend relaxing or doing activities we enjoy. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your health will eventually suffer.

Many caregivers also find that it is beneficial to seek professional assistance in home care services. For starters, it gives you some respite. Moreover, you can lean on their experience and expertise to build a fully personalized care plan. This means that your parent gains consistent care and forms new bonds with their carer. As the primary caregiver, it means you can get a little rest while also gaining reassurance that your endeavors are correct.

Keeping well-rested will ensure that you can take good care of the people you are caring for and you will be a better caregiver because of it. Additionally, sleep deprivation will affect so many areas of your life. Taking care of others can be an emotional roller coaster and being rested is a great way to keep your moods in check.

Eating healthy

When you are super busy caring for others, often eating healthy foods goes by the wayside. It seems easier to just get fast food meals at the drive-thru than make some nutritious food, but eventually, that fast food lifestyle will affect your overall health and moods.

Having a daily routine that incorporates eating healthy is the best way to ensure you have the best quality of life for yourself.

Make time for physical activity

Another area that we tend to rob is physical activity. Maybe you like taking walks, but you feel guilty taking a little time out of your day to exercise. Physical self-care ensures that health problems are kept to a minimum for yourself.

The importance of self-care cannot be stressed enough. Whether you are taking care of a child with autism or an elderly parent, the stress can be overwhelming. So take a few deep breaths and make a plan for self-care tips as a family caregiver.

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